Colombian police arrest 72 members of Usuga drug gang

Colombian police arrest 72 members of Usuga drug gang

BOGOTA - Colombian police said Wednesday they arrested 72 members of the powerful Clan Usuga drug gang, including regional commanders and a woman who kidnapped minors to be forced into sexual slavery.

In a sting operation across six Colombian departments, officers arrested six of Clan Usuga's regional bosses, two government employees who passed information to the gang and a woman who abducted minors who were then forced to have sexual relations with gang leaders, police said in a statement.

Many of those arrested were wanted for crimes such as homicide, extortion and pimping, as well as drug trafficking.

Police said they are closing in on the gang's leader, Dario "Otoniel" Usuga, whose capture authorities say would effectively break up the group.

In the operation police seized computers and data they said contained "important information about the clan's illegal activities."

Colombia has launched a crackdown on the gang in recent weeks.

Last month President Juan Manuel Santos increased the reward for information leading to the capture of its leaders - up to US$600,000 (S$808,380) for Dario Usuga.

Clan Usuga emerged after 32,000 right-wing paramilitaries were demobilized a decade ago - part of an effort to end a more than 50-year war between the army and leftist guerrillas that has spilled over into paramilitary groups and drug trafficking.

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